Opinion

Why Jerry Sorensen Los Altos is running for City Council

Written by lalahpolitico

 

The Daily Post endorsed Jerry Sorensen (pictured) as well as Jeannie Bruins and Jan Pepper, for their positions on government transparency

As the Nov. 6 city council election nears, private letters circulate and then surface, whispers echo, exaggeration is rife, and lawn signs disappear. Lalahpolico believes in free expression, especially in a political context.

A letter I received was a copy of a letter the Sorensens wrote to their investors describing their current thoughts on  planning the timing of a possible resubmittal of a planning application for their aborted 40 Main Street project. Their project is next door to their unhappy neighbor, council member Ron Packard. He has blocked it in every way that might be at the disposal of a council member and lawyer, which is Mr. Packard’s day job. The project would block Mr. Packard’s view to the south, but with zero lot lines, that is to be expected by any property owner downtown.

The letter being “leaked”  is supposed to PROVE that the “only reason Jerry Sorensen is running is to save the investment in his project. He’s angry about being turned down.”

LALAHPOLITICO OPINION:  Well, yes he is angry. He feels the outcome was unjust, was due to favoritism, and that he is NOT  the only one to experience the vagaries of favoritism in this town.  Merchants, Residents, Property Owners — have all been stung by uneven enforcement. It creates a poor socio-economic climate. Jerry’s slogan is “Rules, not Rulers.  Solutions, not Agendas.”  Being angry is a great motivator for public service. It may be the main motivator. Last December 2011, Lalahpolitico was so incensed by the the city website presenting the most indigestible information about the Community Center Master Plan, that she launched this web site to improve information flow to the public.

This year the candidates for the the 2012 elections had to file by August 10.  I spoke to Jerry Sorensen Los Altos a week before August 10 and asked him if he had decided to run.  I urged him to do so– at least it would be an opportunity to educate the community about his interesting ideas about traffic, zoning, parking, and vibrancy. He told me if he ran, he planned to win…and he had a big social footprint in the community through school involvement and community service. He had a business trip to attend to, and had not decided nor filed any candidate papers. I only learned about his decision to run from the Town Crier a week or so later.

I know Jerry only through that single conversation in August and through attending and videoing almost all the election forums this season.

So I feel that makes me well qualified to summarize what makes Jerry Sorensen  run…

1. He was “done wrong” by poor governance and lack of transparency. He wants to change that for all of us.

2. He wants to improve vibrancy by redoing the Civic Center and Downtown – he has ideas, lots of ideas, but it has to be what the community wants.

3. But he says, the last straw, what really tipped him over into running, was the current council’s  hostility toward the Los Altos School District.

LALAHPOLTICO CONCLUSION:  The malfeasance around the handling of his 40 Main Project definitely got Jerry’s attention about the poor government transparency we’ve all been suffering with.  But he’s a man with ideas.  And the key final motivator for him to run, was what he sees as the Council’s mishandling of the relationship with the School District.  So for his detractors to circulate this letter is mere propaganda, one factoid, out of context.

Promote Good  Governance, Fairness, Transparency

“Well, downtown vibrance is, of course, is very important. Many of you know I’ve spent a lot of time studying that. But there are some other issues that just being business friendly, and having rules that people can count on, and having a level of consistency are pretty important. Otherwise you just go someplace else to do business. So, an example of that is I know a couple of businesses — I obviously can’t name them, but they have signs that don’t comply with the new sign ordinance. But the staff said, “Well, we like them, we’ll just kind of look the other way.” At least that’s what they told me. Well, you know, OK, I like you so I’m going to let it go. I don’t like it, I’m going to stick it to you. I think you have to have an environment, you have to have a set of rules that people can live by and trust. And otherwise you have rulers rather than rules.”

See Sorensen3 section in this transcript

 


View him say the above written quote here in the video of the election forum on Sept. 17, part 1,  at 23:45 minutes.

 

SORENSON 13: I thought it interesting that I heard from almost everybody here respectful, civility, inclusive, transparency. Seems like a theme. So I concur with all of that. I would like to see an integrated traffic management system. I’m with Megan 100% on pension issues. This is an issue, that it’s a freight train coming down at every municipality and I’ve known about it for ten years. And we need to deal with it. So thank you Megan for that. And the downtown — but of all those issues, transparency is absolutely key and it is what will drive a very healthy environment

 

See Sorensen13 section in this transcript

View him say the above  in the video of the election forum on Sept. 17 , part 3,  at 28:50 minutes

Educate the Community on Solutions for Vibrancy, Traffic… But the Community Decides

SORENSON 12: So, as a City Council person I think that I’m just one voice out of 28,000, I’m not one voice of five. What my personal vision is, is I’m just one more citizen. If we want a vibrant downtown, we need to make significant changes to downtown. If we want a vibrant Loyola Corners, we’re going to need to make significant changes there. I agree with what Jeannie said, and I think with what some others said. We need a plan that’s a community-based visioning process. What do we want the town to look like? Today, despite what has been said here, there’s only five parcels out of 174 parcels [being redeveloped, the other 169] left [behind] in the city, in downtown that [should be] economically viable for development. And I don’t think all except one [ of the 169]  is probably going to be developed. So we need some major changes to the zoning if we want that. Now maybe the community doesn’t. And I think we just have to listen to the community.

 

See Sorensen12 section in this transcript

View him say this in the video of the election forum of Sept. 17, part 3,  at 23:45 minutes

 

Turn a Hostile relationship with
Los Altos School District into a Supportive one

Jerry says, ” this was the final issue that caused me to run” … the council’s behavior…”was totally inappropriate.”

Hear Jerry respond in full to Dave Price of the Daily Post. ” What should the city do to help the school district find a 10th site.? Is Hillview out of the question?”

Above, hear and see him talk about the City – School relationship at minute 15:50 in the video of the election forum of Sept. 27.

 

 

Megan Saterlee asks Jerry Sorensen

Do you Plan to Pursue 40 Main Street Project while on Council?

Hear Jerry say the group will wait till after the election to decide if they will actually pursue the project.  Duh!
The original application was terminated by the city. No developer near or far will be submitting applications for anything before the new Parking Management study is returned in the spring.  And Jerry’s investors want to know if the new council — with or without Jerry — is going to be more transparent than the old council. Jerry says that if elected he will recuse himself from any discussions or votes about 40 Main. Well, of course.

In the video part 2 of the Election Forum of Sept. 27 you can hear  at 28:40 minutes that most of the 300 people in the audience are not very aware of 40 Main Project issue.  That it is next door to Council member Ron Packard’s office building. That Ron has been “disliking” his neighbor’s project in every which way he can. Going so far as to initiate the revision  of zoning rules (correction, he would say) in the last few months.
RELATED STORIES
June 12 – Los Altos City Council Agenda – Sorensen Project’s Last Gasp?
June 18 – Planning Commission – New zoning on Packard’s block

About the author

lalahpolitico

Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she only became fascinated with business of local politics only in the past couple of years.